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Peanuts Specials DVDs Reviewed:Peanuts 1960's Collection Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 2
Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection (It's the Great Pumpkin / A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving / A Charlie Brown Christmas)
It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown
You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown

He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown: Remastered Deluxe Edition DVD Review

He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown: Remastered Deluxe Edition DVD cover art - click to buy DVD from Amazon.com Specials & DVD Details

Writer/Creator: Charles M. Schulz / Directors: Bill Melendez, Phil Roman / Producers: Lee Mendelson, Bill Melendez / Music: Vince Guaraldi, John Scott Trotter, Ed Bogas, Judy Munsen

He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown

Voice Cast: Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown), Gai De Faria (Peppermint Patty), Chris Shea (Linus Van Pelt), Sally Dryer (Lucy Van Pelt), Bill Melendez (Snoopy)

Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown

Voice Cast: Michael Mandy (Charlie Brown), Brent Hauer (Peppermint Patty), Casey Carlson (Miss Polly), Earl Reilly (Linus), Kristen Fullerton (Lucy), Shannon Cohn (Marcie), Christopher Donohoe (Schroeder, Kids), Bill Melendez (Snoopy)

Running Time: 71 Minutes (49 - specials, 22 - bonus) / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen (Original Ratio) / Dolby Mono 1.0 (English, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese) / Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese
Not Closed Captioned; Featurette Subtitled in Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish
DVD Release Date: September 21, 2010 / Suggested Retail Price: $19.98
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5) / Black Eco-Friendly Keepcase

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If I was to provide you with the list of the 44 traditional animated Peanuts television specials and ask you to rank them from the one you're most familiar with to the one you're least familiar with, I'm guessing you'd probably list no more than five or ten (maybe fifteen if you're really good) before you gave up, realizing that at least by title you're equally unfamiliar with the majority of them.

I consider myself a pretty big fan of the Charles Schulz series, more from TV animation than newspaper comic strips. I've reviewed more than half of those specials over the past three years.
My master canon list tells me that I now own 22 of them on DVD and eleven of those in multiple copies (different editions). Yet even I would be hard-pressed to tell you much about much of the canon, which stretches from 1965's introductory pinnacle A Charlie Brown Christmas to 2006's He's a Bully, Charlie Brown. Several of the shows blend in the mind, particularly those not dealing with holidays.

Am I going somewhere with this or just trying to find something I haven't already said (or maybe you just haven't read) in one of my many other Peanuts DVD reviews? I'm going somewhere! And that somewhere is here: on such a hypothetical familiarity list, He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown wouldn't rank all that highly for many. And yet, Warner has surprisingly deemed it significant enough to sustain the latest Remastered Deluxe Edition DVD from this universe.

Instead of obedience training at Daisy Hill Puppy Farm, Snoopy decides he'll stay with Peppermint Patty and be served ice teas while sunbathing. Peppermint Patty reconsiders adding popcorn to her cotton candy after looking at the unappealing results of the mixture she's made Charlie Brown.

Since acquiring it in late-2007, Warner Home Video has done wonders for the Peanuts TV library, releasing a majority of the canon, much of it material previously unavailable and rarely aired. At the same time, the studio has put fans in somewhat of a pickle. Eighteen months into issuing uniform Remastered Deluxe Edition DVDs holding 2 or 3 specials and an all-new retrospective featurette, Warner began doing more comprehensive chronological collections by decade, with six shorts on each 2-disc set. Favorable by picture quality, pricing and breadth, the decade sets would appear to be the way for serious fans to go, even those who had been collecting the lighter Deluxe Edition DVDs with their sleek slipcovers. The two drawbacks to going the decade collection route are: A) several specials that are years away from having their decades issued are available now as a title attraction or bonus program on Deluxe Editions and B) all those great featurettes created for the Deluxe Editions do not make onto the decade collections.

Good grief, what's a Peanuts fan to do? Well, you could choose to patiently pick up the decade collections as they become available and not fret over those missing featurettes. You could buy every Peanuts DVD Warner puts out, with a fair amount of overlap. Or you can be selective and just get whatever you feel like, a less time-consuming but possibly costlier and probably less fulfilling way. (Running this site, I've been lucky enough to get the first three decade collections and most of the Deluxe Editions from Warner for review. Take that, long hours and minimal pay!)

Getting back or rather getting to the subject of this already overlong review... An unlikely candidate for titular release, He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown was the fifth animated Peanuts TV special created. It first aired in 1968, which means, yes, it was released on Warner's 1960's Collection DVD. Its companion here, 1980's Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown, has never before been released to DVD. It was actually one of the two Peanuts creations first released on home video in 1984. It was last released to VHS in a "Snoopy Double Feature" back in 1996, a.k.a. the year 1 BDVD.

Without further ado, let's take a closer look at the two featured specials, both of which involve Snoopy going away and being missed...

Snoopy decides his unleashed freedom is even worth scrubbing the floor clean at Peppermint Patty's house in "He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown." Miss Polly's well-trained poodles are joined by an embarrassed, blushing, bow-tied beagle in "Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown."

He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown (25:05) (First aired February 14, 1968)

Snoopy is driving everyone crazy with his disruptive antics, so Charlie Brown sends him back to the puppy farm where he was bought to get further obedience training. On the way there, Snoopy is supposed to spend a night at Peppermint Patty's, but he turns it into an indefinite stay while Patty, thinking he's just a strange-looking kid who doesn't talk, waits on him hand and foot. Snoopy is having such a good time unleashed, he even pitches in with chores to carry his weight.
Soon, Charlie Brown misses his dog and the baseball team misses their shortstop. This single-threaded outing is a funny one and the first Peanuts special to fully focus on the fantasizing beagle.

Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown (24:15) (First aired October 24, 1980)

The circus comes to town and both Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty have their schools close to let the kids attend. Snoopy winds up alongside the poodles of performer Miss Polly, who decides to keep him in the act and names him Hugo the Great. Snoopy/Hugo gets trained in everything from basic flips and the tightrope unicycle to the daring trapeze. All is well until unseen circus owner Colonel Stromp, claiming the dog act needs more color, requests that Snoopy and his new main squeeze Fifi are painted pink.

VIDEO and AUDIO

The picture quality on He's Your Dog looks identical to its appearance on the 1960's Collection. That's good because the specials are satisfyingly cleaned up for those decade set releases. The program looks very good, especially when you consider that it was made 42 years ago for primarily one Valentine's night airing. I doubt that the episodes of the three remembered series regularly airing on Wednesday nights that 1967-68 season ("Lost in Space", "The Beverly Hillbillies", and "Green Acres", all also on CBS) are as presentable as this. The few imperfections spotted are almost too minor to mention. I said "almost"; they're things like light grain, smudges, and indeterminate inconsistencies.

Life is a Circus doesn't look as good. Its colors are a bit faded and its picture isn't as sharp. Still, it's clean enough and probably comparable to how it was when first aired. If you're watching on a 16:9 TV or a display with no overscan, you'll notice lines at the edges of the 1.33:1 frame. The thin green line on the right side isn't of much concern, but the thick white one on the left sometimes flickers and distracts.

The single-channel Dolby monaural soundtracks offered on each program are just fine. They don't suffer from debilitating signs of age, like hiss or distortion, but also don't go above and beyond what's needed. In other words, they sound exactly as good as it needs to and no better than that. Mirroring the picture quality, He's Your Dog sounds a tiny bit cleaner than Life is a Circus.

Clip from bonus featurette "Snoopy's Home Ice: The Story of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena":

Speaking in front of some stylish stained glass, skating pro Skippy Baxter, now 90 years old, reflects on the wonderful life he's had at Snoopy's Home Ice. A costumed Snoopy skater stands next to Peanuts creator Charles Schulz in this windowboxed clip from one of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena's ice show TV specials.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

The major bonus feature here is the brand new 22-minute featurette "Snoopy's Home Ice: The Story of the Redwood Empire Ice Arena." As the title suggests, this mini-documentary bears no relevance to the DVD's featured specials. Instead, it tells us all about the Santa Rosa community ice skating facility Charles Schulz had built in the late-1960s. We hear from Schulz's widow Jean and son Craig as well as enthusiastic employees like 90-year-old skating pro Skippy Baxter and proud operations manager Kevin McCool. All speak warmly of the arena's intentions and well-documented features (murals, a cafe).
A 6-minute stretch near the end covers the annual ice shows Schulz enjoyed holding there, footage and costumes from which we're shown. This is a very nice piece on something most Peanuts fans probably don't know about. It does have a bit of the "save the storied ice rink" feel to it, but hopefully, that isn't really the point of this featurette, which absolutely does plant seeds of interest for a visit.

The Special Features menu's other two listings are trailers for You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown: Remastered Deluxe Edition and the LEGO Harry Potter video game. In a rare move, no previews play automatically at disc insertion.

Like the majority of today's new DVDs, It's Your Dog is packaged in a standard black Eco-Box keepcase. While that's typically not a problem, it does mean that this ends the tradition of Warner's Remastered Deluxe Edition Peanuts DVDs having sleek, embossed cardboard slipcovers. Actually, the tradition could very well have ended with January's You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown release; I didn't get that for review but from my public library, which always tosses the slipcovers. (I wonder if there's some giant Slipcover Graveyard somewhere. That would be magical.) The change comes with no reduction in list price. Now, I generally don't sweat the presence or absence of these so-called "O-sleeves", but when it ruins consistency, it riles the DVD collector inside me. But not too much. I think I'm over it now.

The menus remain like their predecessors, simple static screens utilizing the cover art's color scheme and playing "Linus and Lucy" on the main menu.

A pink-painted Snoopy shrugs his way through a heart-breaking goodbye to Fifi, his brief big top poodle love. Snoopy dons a mustache for his return home to Charlie Brown.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

On its own merits, this is a solid DVD, providing two entertaining specials that have aged better than the vast majority of their primetime contemporaries, plus a well-made exclusive bonus featurette. But, right now at Amazon.com, this is actually selling for a dollar more than the far more valuable 1960s Collection (which also includes such landmark shows as A Charlie Brown Christmas and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown). And Life is a Circus will be included in the first 1980s collection, the next decade set due (not yet announced, it's not expected until sometime next year).

The only people I could recommend this disc to are those who really appreciate Snoopy's Home Ice and its shows. And even if the fine documentary on that arena won't likely be resurfacing elsewhere, it's tough to justify spending around $20 on a 22-minute bonus feature.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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Related Reviews:
New: Hand in Hand The Karate Kid (2010) The Black Cauldron (25th Anniversary) Marmaduke
Peanuts 1960's Collection Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 1 Peanuts 1970's Collection, Vol. 2 Peanuts: Deluxe Holiday Collection
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Chipettes (featuring "The Greatest Show-Offs on Earth") Toby Tyler, or Ten Weeks With a Circus
1968: Planet of the Apes Never a Dull Moment The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band 2001: A Space Odyssey
1980: Saturday Morning Cartoons: 1980s Popeye Caddyshack Midnight Madness Herbie Goes Bananas
Also New: Goosebumps: The Blob That Ate Everyone Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue Fraggle Rock: Scared Silly

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Reviewed September 30, 2010.



Text copyright 2010 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1968-1980 United Feature Syndicate, Inc. and 2010 Warner Home Video. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.